A short pillar of clouds hold against the viewer’s left of this card. From them a brilliant right hand has emerged, bearing a double-edged short sword with a hilt upright. An open crown floats around the tip of the sword, and draped over it are two wreathes, one of laurel and the other of olive. Six motes of light hover over the hilt. The sky is otherwise cloudless, and in the far distance at the bottom of the card are mountains and hills.
This is a triumph! Be sure to mark this as a huge success. Game references aside, that is a neat summary of this card. As the seed of the suit of swords, it is the nascent idea, the first glimmer of a train of thought, and the hypothesis that instigates experimentation. As the fulfillment of the suit, it is the logical mind perfected, the triumph of reasoning over blind instinct, and the application of will in a focused direction. What emotion can be applied to this card is satisfaction at best, but can easily segue to smug hubris if the ego is not checked.
Ill-dignified, the card takes on two distinct hues. There is the notion of a “good mind gone bad”, where the intelligence and reasoning is overwhelmed by that smug hubris and now works to the Querent’s detriment. Much like the person represented by the ill-dignified 8 of Pentacles, the person represented by the ill-dignified Ace of Swords can work maliciously just because they can. No real need for a goal, though one will identify itself shortly. As long as the person’s “superior” intellect is being used to push others below them, they’ll do it.
The other hue of an ill-dignified Ace of Swords is the inability to think. Thought processes are stalled at best and derailed as norm. Control over the thinking process is hijacked and shifted to serve anyone but the Querent’s needs. Will becomes unfocused, and what should have been a synchronized movement of force becomes a wild explosion of uncontrolled abilities. Which applies to the reading is determined by the query and the surrounding cards.